the night of the 5th of December, the train ran south-easterly for
about fifty miles; then rose an equal distance in a north-easterly direction,
towards the Great Salt Lake.
about nine o'clock, went out upon the platform to take the air. The weather
was cold, the heavens grey, but it was not snowing. The sun's disc, enlarged
by the mist, seemed an enormous ring of gold, and Passepartout was amusing
himself by calculating its value in pounds sterling, when he was diverted
from this interesting study by a strange-looking personage who made his
appearance on the platform.
who had taken the train at Elko, was tall and dark, with black moustache,
black stockings, a black silk hat, a black waistcoat, black trousers, a
white cravat, and dogskin gloves. He might have been taken for a clergyman.
He went from one end of the train to the other, and affixed to the door
of each car a notice written in manuscript.
approached and read one of these notices, which stated that Elder William
Hitch, Mormon missionary, taking advantage of his presence on train No.
48, would deliver a lecture on Mormonism in car No. 117, from eleven to
twelve o'clock; and that he invited all who were desirous of being instructed
concerning the mysteries of the religion of the "Latter Day Saints" to
go," said Passepartout to himself. He knew nothing of Mormonism except
the custom of polygamy, which is its foundation.
quickly spread through the train, which contained about one hundred passengers,
thirty of whom, at most, attracted by the notice, ensconced themselves
in car No. 117. Passepartout took one of the front seats. Neither Mr. Fogg
nor Fix cared to attend.
appointed hour Elder William Hitch rose, and, in an irritated voice, as
if he had already been contradicted, said, "I tell you that Joe Smith is
a martyr, that his brother Hiram is a martyr, and that the persecutions
of the United States Government against the prophets will also make a martyr
of Brigham Young. Who dares to say the contrary?"
ventured to gainsay the missionary, whose excited tone contrasted curiously
with his naturally calm visage. No doubt his anger arose from the hardships
to which the Mormons were actually subjected. The government had just succeeded,
with some difficulty, in reducing these independent fanatics to its rule.
It had made itself master of Utah, and subjected that territory to the
laws of the Union, after imprisoning Brigham Young on a charge of rebellion
and polygamy. The disciples of the prophet had since redoubled their efforts,
and resisted, by words at least, the authority of Congress. Elder Hitch,
as is seen, was trying to make proselytes on the very railway trains.
emphasising his words with his loud voice and frequent gestures, he related
the history of the Mormons from Biblical times: how that, in Israel, a
Mormon prophet of the tribe of Joseph published the annals of the new religion,
and bequeathed them to his son Mormon; how, many centuries later, a translation
of this precious book, which was written in Egyptian, was made by Joseph
Smith, junior, a Vermont farmer, who revealed himself as a mystical prophet
in 1825; and how, in short, the celestial messenger appeared to him in
an illuminated forest, and gave him the annals of the Lord.
of the audience, not being much interested in the missionary's narrative,
here left the car; but Elder Hitch, continuing his lecture, related how
Smith, junior, with his father, two brothers, and a few disciples, founded
the church of the "Latter Day Saints," which, adopted not only in America,
but in England, Norway and Sweden, and Germany, counts many artisans, as
well as men engaged in the liberal professions, among its members; how
a colony was established in Ohio, a temple erected there at a cost of two
hundred thousand dollars, and a town built at Kirkland; how Smith became
an enterprising banker, and received from a simple mummy showman a papyrus
scroll written by Abraham and several famous Egyptians.
story became somewhat wearisome, and his audience grew gradually less,
until it was reduced to twenty passengers. But this did not disconcert
the enthusiast, who proceeded with the story of Joseph Smith's bankruptcy
in 1837, and how his ruined creditors gave him a coat of tar and feathers;
his reappearance some years afterwards, more honourable and honoured than
ever, at Independence, Missouri, the chief of a flourishing colony of three
thousand disciples, and his pursuit thence by outraged Gentiles, and retirement
into the Far West.
only were now left, among them honest Passepartout, who was listening with
all his ears. Thus he learned that, after long persecutions, Smith reappeared
in Illinois, and in 1839 founded a community at Nauvoo, on the Mississippi,
numbering twenty-five thousand souls, of which he became mayor, chief justice,
and general-in-chief; that he announced himself, in 1843, as a candidate
for the Presidency of the United States; and that finally, being drawn
into ambuscade at Carthage, he was thrown into prison, and assassinated
by a band of men disguised in masks.
was now the only person left in the car, and the Elder, looking him full
in the face, reminded him that, two years after the assassination of Joseph
Smith, the inspired prophet, Brigham Young, his successor, left Nauvoo
for the banks of the Great Salt Lake, where, in the midst of that fertile
region, directly on the route of the emigrants who crossed Utah on their
way to California, the new colony, thanks to the polygamy practised by
the Mormons, had flourished beyond expectations.
added Elder William Hitch, "this is why the jealousy of Congress has been
against us! Why have the soldiers of the Union invaded the soil of Utah?
Why has Brigham Young, our chief, been imprisoned, in contempt of all justice?
Shall we yield to force? Never! Driven from Vermont, driven from Illinois,
driven from Ohio, driven from Missouri, driven from Utah, we shall yet
find some independent territory on which to plant our tents. And you, my
brother," continued the Elder, fixing his angry eyes upon his single auditor,
"will you not plant yours there, too, under the shadow of our flag?"
replied Passepartout courageously, in his turn retiring from the car, and
leaving the Elder to preach to vacancy.
the lecture the train had been making good progress, and towards half-past
twelve it reached the northwest border of the Great Salt Lake. Thence the
passengers could observe the vast extent of this interior sea, which is
also called the Dead Sea, and into which flows an American Jordan. It is
a picturesque expanse, framed in lofty crags in large strata, encrusted
with white salt— a superb sheet of water, which was formerly of larger
extent than now, its shores having encroached with the lapse of time, and
thus at once reduced its breadth and increased its depth.
Lake, seventy miles long and thirty-five wide, is situated three miles
eight hundred feet above the sea. Quite different from Lake Asphaltite,
whose depression is twelve hundred feet below the sea, it contains considerable
salt, and one quarter of the weight of its water is solid matter, its specific
weight being 1,170, and, after being distilled, 1,000. Fishes are, of course,
unable to live in it, and those which descend through the Jordan, the Weber,
and other streams soon perish.
around the lake was well cultivated, for the Mormons are mostly farmers;
while ranches and pens for domesticated animals, fields of wheat, corn,
and other cereals, luxuriant prairies, hedges of wild rose, clumps of acacias
and milk-wort, would have been seen six months later. Now the ground was
covered with a thin powdering of snow.
reached Ogden at two o'clock, where it rested for six hours, Mr. Fogg and
his party had time to pay a visit to Salt Lake City, connected with Ogden
by a branch road; and they spent two hours in this strikingly American
town, built on the pattern of other cities of the Union, like a checker-board,
"with the sombre sadness of right-angles," as Victor Hugo expresses it.
The founder of the City of the Saints could not escape from the taste for
symmetry which distinguishes the Anglo-Saxons. In this strange country,
where the people are certainly not up to the level of their institutions,
everything is done "squarely"—cities, houses, and follies.
then, were promenading, at three o'clock, about the streets of the town
built between the banks of the Jordan and the spurs of the Wahsatch Range.
They saw few or no churches, but the prophet's mansion, the court-house,
and the arsenal, blue-brick houses with verandas and porches, surrounded
by gardens bordered with acacias, palms, and locusts. A clay and pebble
wall, built in 1853, surrounded the town; and in the principal street were
the market and several hotels adorned with pavilions. The place did not
seem thickly populated. The streets were almost deserted, except in the
vicinity of the temple, which they only reached after having traversed
several quarters surrounded by palisades. There were many women, which
was easily accounted for by the "peculiar institution" of the Mormons;
but it must not be supposed that all the Mormons are polygamists. They
are free to marry or not, as they please; but it is worth noting that it
is mainly the female citizens of Utah who are anxious to marry, as, according
to the Mormon religion, maiden ladies are not admitted to the possession
of its highest joys. These poor creatures seemed to be neither well off
nor happy. Some—the more well-to-do, no doubt— wore short, open, black
silk dresses, under a hood or modest shawl; others were habited in Indian
could not behold without a certain fright these women, charged, in groups,
with conferring happiness on a single Mormon. His common sense pitied,
above all, the husband. It seemed to him a terrible thing to have to guide
so many wives at once across the vicissitudes of life, and to conduct them,
as it were, in a body to the Mormon paradise with the prospect of seeing
them in the company of the glorious Smith, who doubtless was the chief
ornament of that delightful place, to all eternity. He felt decidedly repelled
from such a vocation, and he imagined—perhaps he was mistaken— that the
fair ones of Salt Lake City cast rather alarming glances on his person.
Happily, his stay there was but brief. At four the party found themselves
again at the station, took their places in the train, and the whistle sounded
for starting. Just at the moment, however, that the locomotive wheels began
to move, cries of "Stop! stop!" were heard.
like time and tide, stop for no one. The gentleman who uttered the cries
was evidently a belated Mormon. He was breathless with running. Happily
for him, the station had neither gates nor barriers. He rushed along the
track, jumped on the rear platform of the train, and fell, exhausted, into
one of the seats.
who had been anxiously watching this amateur gymnast, approached him with
lively interest, and learned that he had taken flight after an unpleasant
Mormon had recovered his breath, Passepartout ventured to ask him politely
how many wives he had; for, from the manner in which he had decamped, it
might be thought that he had twenty at least.
sir," replied the Mormon, raising his arms heavenward —"one, and that was